Babe, man wot I love so much, drove me to the airport at wot I, and most normal people would consider to be the crack of a sparrows fart! Due to the terror threats, I was requested to be at the airport 3 hours prior to my departure. This meant... 3-a-fuckin-m...which translated into leaving home at omg-most-people-are-only-coming-home-from-a-joll-o'clock! Logically, I didn't see any need for going to bed...so I packed while everyone else in my household slept peacefully. Woke babe up when it was time to go...half way to the airport I realise...I don't have a terminal number...yikes! Call my travel hotline...bless them for being there at such an un-godly hour. Terminal 2..phew!
We exchange "I love you's" but I can tell that he has alreddi put up his invisible sheilding. He does this, I think, to protect himself from that which his over active imagination warns him may become a reality. *shrug* Whatever!
It takes me all of 10 mins to check in, making sure that the bag carrying all my nail equipment gets put through carefully with fragile stickers on it. The first thing that dawns on me as I go through customs and on to 'airside' is there is absolutely no element of time. Its almost like walking into another dimension. People milling about like its normal daylight hours... eating burger king, shopping for perfumes, puffing on a ciggie in the smoking section. (ok that was me...but there were others!) Hellooooo its 4 in the morning!!
My flight to amsterdam is called and I stub out my last ciggie for a while to come. Strange as it may seem, I cant remember who I sat next to on the plane, its a short flight, just 35mins in the air. We land at Schipol and taxi up the runway for what seems like an eternity. A good 15-20mins. No kidding! I think the pilot got lost or something cos, we were taxiing for ages! Finally we are able to dis-embark. I'm panicking cos I have forgotten the time difference and think I might miss my connecting flight. Once in Schipol, I relax, realising my mistake. The airport is delightfully familiar to me, flooding back memories of my trip with babe on his 40th birthday.
After a little shop round duty-free, a couple of ciggies and a drink its time to board for the long haul to Jo'burg. We board the plane and as I look for my seat, my ears start picking up the familiar but long forgotten sounds of the south african 'twang'. I have to fight the desire to kiss and hug each of my fellow passengers as if they are long lost relatives. "hello, howzit china?!" is pumping through my blood as the reality of where I am and where I am going finally sets in. Settling into my seat, between a lady who has just travelled from toronto where her daughter lives, back to her home in Pretoria, and a couple with a 9 month old baby who have just finished a holiday in spain and returning to their home in Houghton.
Of course, its the baby who initiates first contact. "pleased to meet you, my name is Sebastian" he screeches with delight as his mother translates with a strong south african accent. Sufficive to say, Sebastian and I got along swimmingly throughout the journey. Gorgeous kid. Loverly folks.
We all chatted and got a small clipping from each others lifestory to carry with us on our journeys. I was saddened by the lady next to me's 'typical of the new south african' storie. Family strewn across the globe. Her having major spinal problems and still making the annual great trek to see her grandkids. She sat there, clearly in such pain and discomfort, without complaint. Her husband, who sat in the seat across the aisle from her, keeping a watchful eye on her. When she needed to go to the toilet, he would lift her into his strong arms supporting her whilst she adjusted to a standing position and then help her to the loo. (and probably in the loo as well) He would return her to her seat and support her as she winced her way down to sitting position. When he could no longer assist her in her struggle to find a comfortable position, he would stand and watch her with a look of agony of a man who could hardly bear to see the woman he clearly adored in such pain...his heart breaking right before my eyes. He waited patiently for her to settle, holding the blanket ready to cover her legs for her. I turned to her at one point and said " he cant bear to see you like this" she nodded in agreement and then shrugged as if to say "I wish he didnt have to." I touched her hand for a moment and said "dont worry, he can handle it, he clearly loves you so much." to which she sighed.."ja, ek weet" and wiped a solitary tear.
For the 10 hours we were in the air, those people sat on either side of me, were my family. We shared so much, pain, frustration, fear, joy, laughter, smiles, exhaustion, anxiety, excitement and love.
We landed, and as if those hours had never existed, we clambered off the plane to our new adventures. And so began the rhythmic beating of an old but ever so familiar and comforting drum....
As we waited for our luggage, the age old saying... "theres no rush in africa" sprung to mind. It took ages for the bags to get offloaded and typically, mine seemed to be the last.
Finally I had my goodies and I rushed toward the doors, I dont know if it was the fact that I was about to come face to face with my brother whom I hadn't seen in 5 years...or the promise of a fag after 10 hours straight but my legs couldn't carry me quickly enough.
I pushed my trolley through the sea of faces, all waiting to see someone else come through the doors, scanning them myself thinking "will I even recognize my own brother after all these years?" and then I saw him... my couldn't-do-anything-wrong-in-my-eyes-totally-rocks guy, smiling and waving. I smile and wave back trying not to run people down with my trolley but not really 'bovvered' if I do cos my hero, my backstop, my big bruvvah is merely in leaping distance now so...wotEVA!
"Hello my darling" are his first words to me as we hug... "HI! how are you?" I respond... and so began my journey of re-discovery, or re-membering as my heart skipped a beat and began drumming to the african rhythm borne in my soul.